When sneezing and sniffling hit you during cold season, chances are the rhinovirus, or cold virus, is responsible for your symptoms and you may worry you could make your dog sick as well. Luckily, the rhinovirus is species specific, and, while it can make you sick, it is harmless to your canine companion. Other viruses, however, can cause symptoms in your dog similar to your common cold.
Kennel cough, or tracheobronchitis, is an infectious condition causing symptoms similar to the common cold in humans. Symptoms include coughing, runny nose and eyes, swollen tonsils, wheezing and a lack of appetite. Kennel cough is a highly contagious condition caused by one of a variety of different viruses or bacteria. The most common causes are adenovirus type-2, parainfluenza virus and the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. If your dog will be spending time in a kennel or exposed to other dogs, vaccinations against these causes are available and recommended.
Canine influenza, or dog flu, is a condition similar to the human flu and caused by the influenza A H3N8 virus. Influenza A H3N8 was an influenza virus found in horses, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that influenza cases were discovered in dogs in 2004. This relatively new canine virus causes cough, runny nose and fever. A vaccination against canine influenza is available.
Canine distemper virus is a highly contagious virus that causes symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, runny nose and eyes, cough, seizures and neurological signs. While canine distemper is part of the core puppy vaccinations, young puppies and unvaccinated dogs are susceptible to the disease.
Fungal infections, such as histoplasmosis, blastomycosis, cryptococcosis and coccidioidomycosis enter your dog’s respiratory tract and cause symptoms similar to a cold. These symptoms include coughing, fever and lethargy.
Caring for a Sick Dog
If your dog displays cold-like symptoms, isolate him from other pets and seek veterinary care immediately. For most viral causes, treatment focuses on the symptoms. Lots of fresh water, rest and healthy food is recommended. In dogs with a cough or congestion, a humidifier can help loosen the congestion in the sinuses and lungs, making it easier to breathe.